Saturday, June 14, 2014
A Cockroach Promotion and More!
In addition to this, consumer demand is getting stretched out over lower-cost variants. For example, in the automotive category we have consumers who have had 2-box cars for all of 8 years and are looking to change. When they re-enter the market to change, typically they would come in with aspiration to upgrade to a 3-box version(sedans). However, during the last slow-down in India, we have had customers actually going in yet again for a 2-box car replacement. This means they want to fork out less as an outlay in tough times.
What this does is that it does not only kill the sale of a 3-box car which would have otherwise happened in the short-term, but in the medium to long-term, it postpones this family from being in the 3-box car market for a cycle time which might be as short as 6-years in India or right up to 10-years in a strong value-delivery seeking family. This is a hit not for one quarter but for successive streams of quarters.
The consumer is still brand-conscious, but this brand-consciousness operates within a price-format that is value-defining.
In terms of consumption behavior, the consumer is much more careful in terms of usage. There is no surplus usage. There is less squandering and more real usage. The toothpaste is used with care and the tube is squeezed out till the last bit is out with a 'chimta'(tong) in the bathroom, just as the cake of soap is used till its last bits are squeezed. Hotel soaps and shampoos picked up on travels by the man or woman of the house are being used as well to optimal levels.
For this type of consumer, value is in. Wastage is out.
This has seen inventory pile-ups, styles laid out in the market and in pricing decisions as well. Every business plan of many an apparel maker is in the doldrums due to this.
FMCGs did wrong as well. Many focused on larger volume and value packs. The small packs were ignored. Low unit and low value packs literally vacated many markets. This was an undoing for the brands in tough times when consumers want to move to smaller packs. Companies like Britannia however re-invented the wheel in time. The small-pack focus of the company is poised to reap rich dividends.
One read the market, the economy and its peoples wrong in a cautionary recession.
A: Revathi, this is a all about brands wanting to get tactile with their consumers. The idea is a simple one. The best way to sell anything to anyone is to show them the brand. The next thing the consumer wants to do is touch the brand. The third thing would be to use the brand and check it out for its delivery claims.
What is important to understand is the number of days of trail or occasions of trial that is necessary for the product or service to be just right for adoption by the consumer. Once that is understood, the cost viability of the activity can be worked out.
For instance, for a coffee brand to be adopted in a home, a total of a minimum 3 months of trail daily is necessary. This means that a competing brand should be able to work this right only if it is able to provide that deep a placement of its free stock. A simple one-time Rs.5 sachet free does not work. At best it is a very expensive waste.
The ability of the consumer to see, touch, feel and experience the product or service in all its brand and product sensorial aspects is the biggest advantage.
During a recession, this type of trail-offers spring up fast and strong. When there is not enough money to use on mass media advertising, ‘tryvertising’ becomes a very focused way of reaching consumers 1:1.
In recent months the US and Europe have seen a surge in tryvertising.
There are tryvertising websites that get you to register onto them with your database. Freebies are then sent to those registered and feedback is solicited. If you register on a couple of these websites and if you are sincere in your feedback giving mechanism, regularity and correctness, you can run an entire home on literally just this.
Q: I do believe agri-product branding is the biggest opportunity India has. Do you agree?
A: Jena-ji, as of speaking now, we have a total of 914 million mobile phones in this country. We are still growing at 11 million phones plus per month. Most of the new connections are coming from our small towns and villages. I do believe this is a big revolution that has occurred in India. Homes in rural areas which do not have a Television set even, today have mobile phones. In many ways every telco is seeding a medium within every Indian home. A medium that is personal, involved and involving.
The mobile phone is an excellent medium to use. Creativity in its use is yet to arrive. As newer ideas emerge, this will become a big medium to capitalize upon.
The mobile phone is closer to you than anyone else. It is on 24 X 7, is kept closest to your heart in your shirt pocket, is compelling in its demands as you rush to read every message that beeps on it. It is demanding even more when the call rings. You leave everything else and rush to pick it up. It is a media that packs a lot of expectation. Every call that rings can bring a promise to you that enhances your value, your life and your economic well being. The mobile phone is a promise.
The mobile is better than your spouse as well. It demands nothing. It does not fight. It listens to you all the time. It is only as intrusive as you want and allow it to be. And you can shut it off when you want to. A great medium for sure.
The mobile phone is a promising media. A media whose promise is yet to be exploited. There is an ideas-drought here. If you carry that brilliant idea and patent, now is the time to attack the medium in India.
Q: Brands are jumping onto social media marketing in too much of a hurry. Is this not a double-edged sword of a medium?
A: Devaki, a double-edged sword for sure. Totally. But this is good. Brands must ride the good with the bad. Social media is hopefully run by real consumers more than planted and paid consumers. If that is true, true democracy will prevail in marketing as social mediums tell brands what they must hear, but were hitherto too distant to hear.
The problem with Marketing and marketers today is that all of us want only the positive. We shun the negative.
It is important to understand that the consumer is a positive and a negative person packaged into one body , mind and soul altogether. The Yin and Yang will be at play forever.
No brand can expect its image and experience to be positive forever. Further still, no brand can expect its image to be ten on ten positive. There will come times when consumers will want to articulate the negative as well. In such times, your brand will be 9 points positive and 1 point negative. This is good for the brand.
Brands must learn that they must ape the lives of their consumers. No consumer is perfect. The perfect being is a myth. Similarly, the perfect brand is and should be engineered to be a myth. If your brand is too perfect, sit down and re-engineer the brand. The brand must be equally fallible and real and alive as is the consumer. Consumers forgive small faults. I go the extent to say that brands that have perfect offerings must engineer small faults that will come by time and again. Brands must get as real as their consumers are.
Negative impact of WOM is a reality that brands must be prepared for. In a world that is democratic you cannot have brands that are autocratic in their orientations. Brands need to step off the pedestals they live upon. Social media is a great step-down ladder for brands.
Harish Bijoor is a business strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
Of Sugar and Film Stars!
A: Ratna, film stars today are not only film stars. They are more. They are social evangelists. They are event managers. They are marketing stars as well, as you put it.
It is common knowledge today that some actors make more money on the brand endorsement circuit than they do with their films. Add to it this new trend of selling personal lives and personal life stances through products and services to it.
Film stars today understand themselves to be consumable products. Their fans and to-be-fans are waiting to consume them and their every word. They therefore monetize their abilities, their pull-factor and their credibility scores with fans. There are actors who therefore employ full-time brand-managers whose sole job is to monetize every opportunity there is to monetize. Film stars also fully understand that if one star is not willing to do something, another is. Film stars are also aware that their charm will last for a while. This time is a window that is to opened and monetized: fast and quick. So never mind if a product is a pregnancy kit, a hearing aid or whatever!
The benefit of such exercises is totally monetary to the star. Along with monetary benefit, there is a non-benefit attached to the star as well. Film stars in fact lose credibility when they endorse brands that lack a fit with their persona. The consumer is a fool. Not a bloody fool! Let's remember, consumers are innocent, but not gullible.
I do believe our sweet fixation stems from the days of yore. Our mythology is loaded with sweet stuff. Our every region has hundreds of varieties of sweets. Every region has a variation on it. Add to it the fact that we are a nation of festivals. We celebrate a total of 169 large festivals in India. And every festival is typically signified by a large quantum of sweets and flowers. The sweet is a fundamental corner-stone of every festival we celebrate. Does not matter what religion it is all about, it is about sweets of every kind. The wedding is yet another occasion for a splurge on sweets. Every child that is born means a lot of sweets around. Every new job means laddoos or pedas all around. Sweets abound in our lives.
India is therefore a very sweet nation. A nation that consumes sugar and oil in large quantum. No wonder then that we are the diabetic capital of the world as well, with some 36 million diabetics of a total count of 145 million worldwide. We must also be closely inching to he status of cholesterol capital of the world as well.
Our sugar fixation is therefore a big opportunity for marketers of sweets, candies, gum, ice cream, frozen desserts of every kind, tinned offerings of sweets, chocolates and more. India needs no evangelical selling of the sweet product. If the price and taste fits, the market is ready. Marketers in this category therefore enjoy insulated volumes.
The clear opportunity for marketers of chocolates and candies is the replacement opportunity offered by the large base of traditional sweets. The consumption opportunities are many and organized. Festivals, weddings, birthdays, celebrations and such consumption occasions for the traditional sweets are consumption replacement occasions for the chocolate and candy product at large. The future is therefore bright.
The second key aspect is that of brand equity. It is important to ensure that the brand proposition is showcased with consistency and integrity in the base line. If you do this right, you have a solid and positive brand-equity you can leverage in the future.
Monday, March 31, 2014
Branding Foods And Women Magnets
Q: Quite a few brands seem to be going in for disruption in their advertising formats. Why? And how many such formats exist?
A: Ramani, I typically classify disruption as follows:
1. Disruption due to boredom/fatigue.
2. Disruption due to competitive pressure.
3. Disruption for the sake of disruption.
Marketers today are indulging in disruption formats that span all these three. Typically, disruption due to boredom/fatigue and disruption due to competitive pressure are formats that can be appreciated. The third is really the one that needs to be discouraged, as it leads nowhere, except resulting in some degree of brand activity, some degree of notice ability for both the brand and brand manager alike.
When a brand wants and seeks out change, it disrupts. It can disrupt either its APS (Advertising Positioning Statement), its big idea or its BPS (Brand Positioning Statement). The worst is when a brand tampers with its BPS.
Brands that attempt to do this do it when they are losing shares and when they believe the basic brand proposition is not living with the times. Bru changed its basic proposition from "Closest in taste to filter coffee". It believed this does not work as a BPS anymore in a new and modern society where coffee is not coffee anymore! Its beyond!
When a brand is stagnant in its volumes and when a brand is really nudging the downward curve, one needs to think disruption. But think disruption only after you are totally convinced that it is the only thing to do. Disruption for the sake of disruption is riding the hobbyhorse of branding a bit too casually.
Out of Home?
A: Raveeen, India and the Indian at large are getting that much more on-the-go. With more and more homes becoming twin-income households, both husband and wife are on the go. Add to it children on the go all the while, to school and college. Add to it the fact that people are indulging in long commutes, as it is getting more and more expensive for people to live close to the work places. All this is creating outdoor eyeballs on the go! The marketer is therefore looking at OOH with a new vision set altogether. This is a sector slated to boom exponentially.
In terms of economy and money spent on the medium, the medium delivers more than it eats in terms of money. This is a big draw as well.
The biggest user of this medium today is the media and entertainment industry. As much as 72 per cent of all OOH is media and entertainment industry related. This perks up even more as you get into the bigger cities. For the television medium for instance, Outdoor is a big draw. It offers a contra-medium to stare out of. Television is totally indoors just as OOH is totally Outdoors!
OOH is slated to increase its relevance to the marketer and consumer in specific. As technology makes inroads into the medium, expect Mini NY Times Squares’ to emerge all over the big cities of India.
Shilpi, more the merrier.
The entry of Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts will energize the India Cafe market. There is bound to be a deeper degree of investment in terms of sweat and money by the existing Cafe players. This itself will help broaden and deepen the base for coffee in India. Add to it the different formats that will enter. Dunkin Donuts worldwide is a pick-and-go play. On-the-go coffee consumption is still nascent territory in India despite the population being peripatetic within cities. This will add more zing.
Players are investing right, and with a great degree of intelligence. Carpet-bombing of a market with density of outlets helps in dense market economies. Expect to have as many as 21 Cafes in 1 sq kilometer space, just as you will have just 5 Cafes in a 50 Km space. Market density and propensity to consume, as well as affordability indices will govern this density of outlet seeding.
The challenges to all Café players are all about managing costs, just as one strives to deliver the best International standard of Cafe experience. This is the biggest challenge for all of them, irrespective whether they are a ‘desi’ offering or International.
The fact remains that very un-related people can help us learn styles of leadership. One can learn leadership from a beggar equally, as much as from a successful cricket captain such as Dhoni. Most folk however gravitate towards those who are overtly successful than those who are covertly successful. Few study leadership from a beggar on the street-corner.
The Corporate world can derive lessons for sure from everyone and everywhere. One can learn valuable management lessons from the virtual world of Twitter, just as you can from the real world of Dhoni. What is important is how you co-relate information and as to how you link one cog to another wheel.
Saturday, August 03, 2013
Of Gold and Garments
I do believe male stars add to the aura and help create awareness for the brands in question. The aura of the actor rubs off on the brand. This helps.
A: Morarka-saab, most certainly yes. The market is ready, and more importantly willing. Niche players in apparel and footwear will be welcomed. Brand offerings that will stand apart and somewhere between the offerings of a mass retailer such as Walmart at the bottom end, and a Louis Vuitton kind at the top end, will succeed in creating the differentiation a fashion oriented market craves for.
But remember, nothing comes with ease in India. Marketers need to exhibit brand and retail savvy. Add to that patience, and you have a winning formula in this space.'
With FDI, the market opens up to variety. Much needed variety. FDI will open up different price segments on offer as well. Every price segment will have an international dog tag to carry and flaunt.
I do believe we will take off in this space. Our development will be slow in this space, but solid. Quite unlike the Chinese model of fast but dissipated!
A: Ravi, it is. Don’t just tinker with it as well, do more.
The first dimension is when you as an employee within an organization is doing business with another company. The second is when you as a company are interacting with your customers, and the third is where you as a consumer are interacting with another consumer.
Social media space is filled with these three types of people. What is important to understand is that each one of us wears different hats at different times. We flip these hats seamlessly as well, from B2B to B2C to C2C and vice versa. Therefore, for a B2B enterprise social media campaigns are always good. They appeal to one and all.
B2B enterprises can deliver the business story seamlessly on social media, without the daunting walls of physical organizations and what they represent as behemoths in B2B space. An IOC talking to an ONGC can be that much more softer and seamless in social media space. Further, social media space is un-intrusive to the extent that it works at its own pace and its consumption is voluntary and not forced.
A B2B campaign that speaks level and 1:1 works best in this space. A campaign that softens the stance of the Business giant. A campaign that offers a window to the heart of the business, instead of a door to the commercial bank of the enterprise.
Remember however to keep some things in mind. Be careful that you talk 1:1. Don't talk top-down. Be soft. Be human. Be real.
Harish Bijoor is a business strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.
Monday, April 01, 2013
The Elevator Pictch, the VC and Hot Late Night TV slots
A: Gubbi, let me say it crisply, in an elevator-pitch manner of writing.
Q: Could you list out a set of things I must look out for when I pick a brand ambassador?
A: Varun, brand ambassadors represent your brand and everything it stands for. Therefore, when picking a brand ambassador, pick with care. Show as much care as you do when you pick vegetables and fruits at the local market. If you still do that today.
And do this not with your eyes alone, but see it through the eyes of your consumer always. Don't get excited by the fact that you have picked a celebrity of status and mass appeal. Go by what is required by your brand, and go with what the brand ambassador represents to your target segment consumer.
Brand ambassadors need to have stature, support of the consumer base your brand appeals to, aura to hold the audience interest and credibility to ensure repeat usage and purchase and more.
Q: The late-night slot on television is getting to look more and more exciting. It is getting hotter still with direct marketing companies going for the kill. How did it come by? Where is this going?
I do believe we will see a lot more of these around. There will be a polarization of players. At one end you will have global players with superior products and at another we will have the local players with inferior street-side products. You will have high-end under-eye wrinkle remover gels rubbing shoulders with Rudraksh beads from the Himalayas. And then, in will step regulation. Regulation that will want restraint. Alok, till then, enjoy the experience.
Q: How important do you rate branding in India? Have we arrived?